A couple in their 70s mark the third and fourth cases of novel coronavirus in Illinois, according to state and local health officials, who announced Saturday that the man had tested positive for the virus in suburban Cook County. That was followed up Monday with news that his spouse had also tested positive for the virus, known as COVID-19.
Those test results need to be confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health officials said Monday.
The man remains hospitalized in isolation at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, but his wife is quarantined at home, according to local health officials. Both patients are reported to be in good condition.
“In general, we like to keep (patients) out of the hospital if we can,” Illinois Director of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said Monday afternoon when asked why one patient was hospitalized and the other remained at home under quarantine. “That minimizes exposure to other health care workers. Any chance we can say someone is well enough to stay home, we prefer that.”
Health officials are working to identify and actively monitor individuals who were in contact with the couple in an effort to reduce the risk of additional transmission, and said they will contact individuals who may have been exposed, according to IDPH. State officials have requested the CDC deploy a team to Illinois to help with these efforts.
“I want to assure residents that the Cook County Department of Public Health is working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the state health department as we monitor the situation closely,” Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said in a tweet Saturday.
A presumptive case of novel coronavirus (2019-CoV) has been identified in suburban Cook County. Final confirmation results from the CDC are pending. pic.twitter.com/AGijxctZrp
— Toni Preckwinkle (@ToniPreckwinkle) March 1, 2020
Already, health officials in Illinois are monitoring 286 people twice a day for symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever and cough, according to Ezike. “We are still in containment mode,” she said. “We continue to respond to this outbreak in full force. … The risk does still remain low.”
The virus had not been found to be spreading widely in the U.S., health officials said, and people should not alter their daily routines but remain vigilant about keeping germs from spreading by covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands with warm water and soap, and staying home when sick.
Last week, Gov. J.B. Pritzker and local officials announced the state was expanding its capacity and methods to test for the virus. Pritzker also announced the state will also begin testing patients with flu-like symptoms for COVID-19 at select hospitals as a precautionary measure.
Illinois reported its first case of coronavirus in January after a woman in her 60s returned from Wuhan, China, the epicenter for the outbreak. She infected her spouse, a man in his 60s, who didn’t travel to China, according to health officials. Both have made a full recovery.
Coronaviruses are respiratory viruses that range from the common cold to more serious illnesses, like SARS and MERS, and are generally spread via droplets in the air when people cough or sneeze, as happens with the common cold, according to officials. There is no treatment or vaccine for the virus.